With the recent onslaught of articles against Joint Family system where a newly-wed woman is expected to live with her in-laws after the marriage on various blogs including most famously Express Tribune, I find it imperative to come to the defense of this age old and somewhat looked down upon practice in the name of Rationality.
Your mother would be quick to put the whole talk to end by telling you that this is all due to those cursed TV soap operas (she herself watches all the time) which has put this decay in our otherwise fine social fabric. But the fact of the matter remains that yes it is due to this excessive exposure to Indian dramas, where the modest fight extends around problem of 100000 Cror transaction between two otherwise pretty middle-class looking people and modern Sleeve-less-fair-skin-girls-in-dramas-shot-in-Lahore-and-Karachi based on weird suppositions, which has turned the whole mantra of society upside down.
Before proceeding further a little disclaimer, I am married – I live away from my family and no, we never have had any issues over it. But this is because; (a) I can afford it, (b) I know my parents are well taken care of.
Let’s look at the unfortunate reality of our society these days in points:
- Women and Employment: Wide majority of women after marriage will not go on to do a job. Case in point in Pakistan over 75% of girls who graduate with a Medical degree do not go to work in a country where 80-85% of all the medical students are actually female! Leaving aside the issue of how much this is costing the nation in Tax Payers’ money (since Government funds medical studies in Public Universities) or how much a deficit it is causing in our National Healthcare programs – it means that a large number of women after marriage will not be actually a financial supporting hand in their homes.
- Economic Power of the Young Lad: Average Salary of a recent Business graduate from a top University in Pakistan is around 40,000 Rs and for Engineers it is around 25,000 Rs. With even a generous 10-12% Salary increment on annual basis which some companies practice how do you reckon such an individual living in a city like Islamabad not only on his own but also supporting his wife? Compare this with a graduate salary in UK for example, where after 3-4 years of work you can actually save enough money to put initial mortgage down-payment (or with your partner pitching in with you) and own your first house outright in 20-25 years time!
For the sake of keeping the discussion simpler, I am taking out the other wonderful expenses like Utility bills, setting up the house (I am sure with a separate house we are also talking about a ghairatmand lad who will not take Jahaiz – Dowry) and other various recurring expenses.
Problem unfortunately with these anti-Joint Family System arguments presented every now and then is that it is wonderful to live separately but beside the social pressures it is also important to realise that it is in fact Economics which are playing a larger role! Worse case that even if you can afford living alone, what if the lad’s parents are not with ample income or support resources? We are here expecting a boy who did not contribute even a single penny towards his whole education (unlike the countries/societies where kids are encouraged to work for self-improvement and life experiences if nothing else) to leave his family without giving any thing in return. Mind you this child might have been brought up by his average middle class parents by actually cutting down their own expenses, selling their property for his higher education or even the emotional part of selling the mother’s jewelry (I actually met a woman in Lahore few months back who sold her house to pay for her child’s fee in a local Private Medical college).
A lady in my staff told me that she actually prefers living with her in-laws even if that means living in the Old City of Lahore because then she doesn’t have to worry about her infant son when she goes out to work. Her mother in-law and unmarried sister in-law would take turns taking care of her son. Add day-care expenses to your list if you are not working for Telenor in Pakistan or planning to have kids somewhere down the line.
Living alone can be fun. I have yet to meet a woman “who absolutely loves” living with her in-laws, but the thing is to be realistic in your ideas and views about the practice. There is nothing wrong with moderanisation, it is the way to go forward but then let us all be honest and embrace it properly. This selective embrace of things will lead to us to no where. Until we do not have enough Economic power available to the families and the young couples, I am afraid Pakistani and Indian men will have to and rather should live in a Joint Family System!